HealthDay News — Bowing to public pressure, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has halted a move to ban a plant called kratom, which experts say could help battle the nation’s opioid epidemic.
Kratom is a plant from southeast Asia that contains a number of substances that trigger effects similar to opiates when consumed. Some people claim that kratom helped them overcome opiate and alcohol addiction and to treat chronic pain. In a preliminary document posted to the Federal Register Thursday, the DEA announced withdrawal of its notice of intent to ban kratom and said it needs to obtain more research, the Washington Post reported.
Researchers say kratom may help them develop nonaddictive alternatives to opioids, but that a DEA ban on kratom would hinder those efforts, the Post reported. A number of U.S. lawmakers also opposed the DEA’s move to ban kratom.
The DEA will accept public comment on kratom until December 1 of this year and asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to expedite a “scientific and medical evaluation and scheduling recommendation” for the active chemical compounds in kratom, the Post reported. After the public comment period closes, the DEA could impose different levels of regulation on kratom or leave it unregulated.